Roundabout Safety Facts
These safety improvements were achieved after roundabouts replaced 13 intersections with 55 mph speed limits:
- Total crashes: Down 41%
- Fatal and injury crashes: Down 79%
- Frontal-impact crashes: Down 62%
Source: NCDOT’s Traffic Safety Unit (2020)
Similar results were found after 30 roundabouts were constructed across North Carolina:
Source: NCDOT's Mobility and Safety Division (2011)
- Total crashes: Down 46%
- Fatal and injury crashes: Down 76%
- Front-impact (head-on) crashes: Down 75%
The N.C. Department of Transportation builds roundabouts to improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. They also help reduce the congestion and backups more typical of traditional intersections with stop signs and traffic signals.
A driver generally enters the roundabout more quickly than if waiting at a traffic signal. In addition, the modern roundabout is much smaller than older traffic circles and requires vehicles to travel at lower speeds (15-20 mph), making them safer than traffic circles. Additionally, the slower speeds make it easier for a driver to find a gap of traffic inside the roundabout before safely entering it.
Driving Through a Roundabout
A roundabout is easy to drive through once you understand how it works. As you approach it, you’ll see a yellow “roundabout ahead” sign, indicating you should slow down.
Drivers yield to any vehicles or bicyclists already in the roundabout. Everyone using the roundabout moves in a counterclockwise direction, and those already in it do not yield to approaching vehicles.
Drivers should use turn signals when exiting and yield to pedestrians using the crosswalk at the roundabout.
- Once inside the roundabout, you simply exit at the desired street.
- Travel a quarter of the way around to turn right at the next street.
- Go halfway around to continue straight.
- Instead of making a traditional left turn, go three-quarters around before exiting to the right.
- Travel full circle to make a U-turn.
As you approach, observe signs and pavement markings to choose the appropriate lane before entering the roundabout.
Watch this short video
to see how easy it is to travel a multilane roundabout.
- Typically, you will be in the right lane to exit right out of the roundabout.
- You stay in the left lane to go straight through the roundabout (halfway around) or to exit to the right three-quarters of the way around.
- Stay in the left lane as you enter the roundabout and go full circle to make a U-turn
- Do not change lanes while in the roundabout.
Roundabout Tips & Reminders